3

votes

For whom has the hardest part about paleo been giving up excessive exercise?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 17, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Changing my ideas about ideal types and amounts of exercise has been much harder than giving up grains and beans. I am still prey to the "more is better" illusion and daily have to talk myself down from just going for a long run. I know that part of this is an identity thing: I am addicted to the idea of accomplishment/achievement and before, being a long-distance runner was part of this: I could run marathons and climb Mt. Ranier. I am really, really trying hard to think of getting eight uninterrupted hours of sleep as a very worthy accomplishment, or say, taking two consecutive days off from weights. I went home at Christmas and took a week off entirely (after a MDA article about dead weeks) which I had never done since I was twelve.

I know I have had an exercise addict problem before. My old training journals from my twenties are shocking for me to read now. I wouldn't even record any run under 6 miles because I thought it was too insignificant. The funny thing is that I am fairly sure this has nothing to do with wanting a certain physique (mine has stayed pretty constant over time and various types of exercise), but rather an addiction to the idea of progress: faster, longer, stronger...like trying to be my own superhero.

Now I run only twice a week for 2 miles as a warm-up for my weight/kettlebell routine. I do yoga and try to walk (at a normal pace) 3 miles a day.

Can anyone relate? How do you talk yourself down? I have read all the studies about chronic cardio, cortisol and too much exercise, but what I am talking about isn't logical...it is a feeling in the body of not doing enough. I should add that I feel great now, but I felt great before so I don't have the usual dramatic-change-for-the-better thing that many here have experienced. And doing long runs on trails through the woods always felt like play to me since I did the same thing as a kid, albeit carrying a stick/spear.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:53 PM

I'm not looking for studies on exercise addiction. I'd like to see some studies that state such modest effort constitutes over-exertion.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:20 AM

I am not familiar with any studies about exercise addiction. I would love to read one if it exists.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:19 AM

The hardest for me was going on vacation and figuring out how to get my runs and weights in. On the other hand, running is a great way to visually explore a new city (as long as there are no safety issues). Did you read the MDA article about dead weeks? It helped me feel like taking some time off was "doing something".

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:16 AM

Thank you. Many people mention disordered eating, but is there even a word for exercise addiction? Maybe exorectic?

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:13 AM

It does, thank you. People often say the phrase "chronic cardio" with disdain, but running is really beautiful, fun and meditative, and hence very hard to give up. I too swapped out a lot of running for weight-lifting, but then started doing that too much, so have scaled back to weights twice a week.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:05 AM

Yoga is great. I have never had a running injury, in part I believe, because I started yoga when I was 23 as a way to protect myself and recover from all the running. At some point, I realized it was really good on its own and I have been doing it ever since. I am married to a yoga teacher, so it is really always around!

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on February 17, 2013
at 10:47 PM

It is a struggle everyday. My spouse recently challenged me to take 3 weeks off from working out. I did it but I felt guilty everyday and I swear I had symptoms of withdrawal. Daily workouts are something I have always done and not working out is akin to not brushing my teeth, it just doesn't feel right. I am trying to reduce the length and intensity of my workouts and remind myself more is not better.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 10:41 PM

+1 for a great question. It's not a problem I can relate to personally, but it's a big deal and something that I don't think gets talked about enough around here.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Have you been successful?

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Thanks for your example. It is harder to give up when you find it fun as opposed to grueling.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:21 PM

Yes, it seems an obsession with all things paleo has somewhat replaced the exercise obsession.

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7 Answers

2
39311794c054f89a226f33e1afd08721

on February 17, 2013
at 06:55 PM

The easiest way to break a habit is to replace it. I have Tourette's - I have a lot of experience with the need to intentionally replace habits.

You replace the habit immediately, responding to the need to overdo a run by going straight to your replacement. Eventually, the replacement becomes the habit.

Because your addiction sounds like a cousin to an eating disorder, where there's a reward in re-affirming control of your own body, selecting a habit that won't be too damaging if it goes to extremes might be a good idea.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:21 PM

Yes, it seems an obsession with all things paleo has somewhat replaced the exercise obsession.

2
A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:29 PM

Reducing the amount of exercise I do has been 1000 times harder than giving up any food.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on February 17, 2013
at 10:47 PM

It is a struggle everyday. My spouse recently challenged me to take 3 weeks off from working out. I did it but I felt guilty everyday and I swear I had symptoms of withdrawal. Daily workouts are something I have always done and not working out is akin to not brushing my teeth, it just doesn't feel right. I am trying to reduce the length and intensity of my workouts and remind myself more is not better.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:19 AM

The hardest for me was going on vacation and figuring out how to get my runs and weights in. On the other hand, running is a great way to visually explore a new city (as long as there are no safety issues). Did you read the MDA article about dead weeks? It helped me feel like taking some time off was "doing something".

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Have you been successful?

1
5ef22d4ce35793656aaf3d222ec58b6a

on February 18, 2013
at 03:39 AM

This is me right now. In 2012 I put in about 1,500 miles running, so for me to go from 150 mile or more a month to running just a few times a week has been a real challenge. I'm trying to do more lifting, so I'm doing some strange workouts to get me a little more interested. I call this my caveman workout. I busted up some old sidewalk last year so now I grab a piece of that and carry it around my property doing curls and presses with it. Then I do some pushups and then do the process again. I work my self up to a certain number of reps over a number of weeks, then start over again with a bit bigger piece of concert. So now I'm trying to replace much of my running with weight training. I suppose this summer I will pick up the running some, but I'll see. The reason I wanted to try this way of eating is with all the running I did in 2012 I only lost about 10 pounds. I was trying to get down another 10 or 15 but could not crack the 175 barrier. As I now look back, I was really sabotaging all my running efforts by eating way to many carbs. So my goals are to now sculpt my body some, loose the belly fat and then see if I can start running in hopes of doing well in a marathon. My running last year was very good. I came in first for my age group in a half marathon in Western NY so I was in very good running shape last year. I'm hoping this change will make me faster in the future. I won't know unless I try so I'm giving it a shot. I hope this helps.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:13 AM

It does, thank you. People often say the phrase "chronic cardio" with disdain, but running is really beautiful, fun and meditative, and hence very hard to give up. I too swapped out a lot of running for weight-lifting, but then started doing that too much, so have scaled back to weights twice a week.

1
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on February 18, 2013
at 01:49 AM

oh I used to be the same. I was totally addicted to exercising and would do it for about 2 hours a day or until I burned off most of what I ate. it was very unhealthy and now I usually do 20-30 minutes a day when I can. I haven't ran in about a year even though I miss it. i'll start up again when I am well, but not doing the usual 20-25 miles a week I was.

1
366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:32 AM

I do way less hardcore aerobic exercise and less weight lifting than I used to, but I get MORE movement and I sit less. I do yoga 4x a week, walk a couple times a week, I use a standing desk 1/2 the day, I jump rope for short periods whenever I have a few free moments or while watching TV. I still do a light weightlifting session or use kettleballs every so often - maybe twice a month now. I almost never do anything that makes me break a sweat.

I've been surprised to see how much the regular yoga has kept up my strength, and in a healthier way...haven't had back problems in over a year now (started yoga about 18 months ago) and I used to "throw my back out" or otherwise injure myself on a semi-regular basis.

Sleep better than I used to, and bigger bonus: I can eat more food on my current regimen than I could when I was doing much "harder" exercise.

[adding because I didn't really answer your question: it was hard for me to give up the notion that I needed to suffer & sweat, and it was a slow process, but not having injuries & being able to eat more took care of it eventually! Maybe I was never a real exercise addict]

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:05 AM

Yoga is great. I have never had a running injury, in part I believe, because I started yoga when I was 23 as a way to protect myself and recover from all the running. At some point, I realized it was really good on its own and I have been doing it ever since. I am married to a yoga teacher, so it is really always around!

1
B9cfa43798183424786a59d11ac52f76

(145)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:43 PM

Isn't that crazy? I'm still trying to talk myself down. Right now it's 3 days on, 1 day off but trying to let go of that "I need to do some cardio" and instead focusing on lifting weights. I think what you're doing sounds very healthy and sustainable, but I understand the feeling of missing the more challenging workouts.

I was thinking back to a few years ago. I was in nursing school, working part time, didn't have a car so I biked anywhere from 9-20 miles/day, then on top of that I would go to the gym 6 days a week for spinning or weight training or running. I think I was burnt out and didn't even know it. My sleep was terrible, I was irritable, I got sick all the time. But I just kept on doing it. I was in calorie deficit, but never lost an ounce. I think it's easy not to notice the effects these things have on your body when you do them every day and you get that temporary high, but when I quit being so busy I was like, "Oh. This is what it's like to not be under constant stress".

I think I will still struggle with this for a long time. I LOVE cycling, and am looking forward to racing this summer and fall. So how does one moderate THAT? I don't know if there's an answer out there.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 17, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Thanks for your example. It is harder to give up when you find it fun as opposed to grueling.

0
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on February 18, 2013
at 12:37 AM

Can you guys point me to the literature on this? I'm interested in learning the science...

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:53 PM

I'm not looking for studies on exercise addiction. I'd like to see some studies that state such modest effort constitutes over-exertion.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd

(1205)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:20 AM

I am not familiar with any studies about exercise addiction. I would love to read one if it exists.

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